By: Maria Angelica H. Alulod, CPA, CMA
Everyone has a story to tell, and this is my story and sharing my story is giving you a part of who I am. It was 2009, when I joined PICPA Abu Dhabi as an associate, a non-CPA member. Why? Because I have a dream, that is to become a CPA and PICPA Abu Dhabi is the only venue that could help me fulfill my dream.
It was the first time that Special Professional Licensure Board Examination will be held in the UAE, December of 2009. The Philippine President Gloria Macapagal - Arroyo under Executive Order No. 835 mandated the PRC to conduct a yearly Special Professional Licensure Board Examination (SPLBE) in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE and other middle east countries for the benefit of qualified Overseas Filipino Workers. And when I heard about it, as an OFW, I told myself this is my chance and the opportunity I was waiting for.
I searched for PICPA Abu Dhabi and was able to contact Mr. Rodel Tibe, the PICPA President back then, who invited me to join their ongoing review classes. It was not easy for a shy type of person who lacks confidence to reach out and go alone, but my dream is bigger than this. With a lot of courage, not knowing anyone, I came to class carrying with me high hopes that this is the venue that will help me fulfill my dream. I can still remember, I sat in front as back seats were already taken, alone in a corner, I felt a bit of an outcast. Most of my classmates already knew each other after sharing a few classes that I have missed. Again, my dream is bigger than this. As time goes by, our group spent most of the time together, studying and preparing for the exam. This group of people who shared the same dream, worked together for its fulfillment, having the same battle as myself, became my friends.
Unfortunately, I did not make it in 2009 SPLBE. There was only a single passer in the UAE, she must be really the lucky one. It was heart breaking and failure did have an impact on me, I wanted to give up, I was tired, burned out and lost hope. But my mentor, Mr. Angel Secerio, encouraged me to continue and retake the exam. He assured me that on my next exam, I will make it and he will help me in all that he can. I decided to do the retake. I kept telling myself, I might have fall but I will stand up and fight again. This is another battle I had to face, I will give all that I can and all that I have. And in 2010 SPLBE, I passed and proud to place 2nd in Abu Dhabi. All the hard work, sacrifices and sleepless nights just paid off. It was one sweet success.
I was right, PICPA Abu Dhabi is a venue that helped me fulfill my dream. My CPA journey with PICPA Abu Dhabi taught me a lot. Not only did it help me reach my dream, but it has also anchored my core values, my personal beliefs and outlook in life. It is where I realized what is PICPA Abu Dhabi’s cause and mission, the impact an organization can bring to people who would just look on it deeper. The sense of volunteerism from its officers and volunteered lecturers is just selfless. The ‘pay it forward’ practice is truly remarkable. It may sound so idealistic but yes, these have been in PICPA Abu Dhabi ever since I joined and a reason I stayed for a decade or so. I chose to remain as an active member if not serving as an officer, this is how I thought I can give back to PICPA Abu Dhabi.
Believe me when I say that accepting the challenge to be the next in line was never an easy decision. I had my fears, the fear of failure being the biggest, adding up the pressure of the high standards set by my predecessors and self-doubt always kicks in questioning myself who am I to lead the group of professional accountants. I remember, I was praying so hard for God’s guidance for my decision. The encouragement of my mentor and the support of my family and my closest friends shed the light on one of the biggest decision I have ever made. “Pikit mata, lakas loob, buong tapang”, I decided to accept the position of being the next president. Along with this, is a challenge to myself to get out of my comfort zone as this is a great opportunity for growth. Besides, I still have a year to learn and be taught, to observe and be trained by my mentor, the President, Mr. Johann Salangsang. I tried to convince myself that I can manage it as I am in the organization for a long time and was in position for a couple of years, I have an idea of how things work within the organization. I have a pattern to follow and to improve.
But even before my term started, COVID-19 pandemic took over and everything just made 360-degree turn. The uncertainty and the surprise of the unknown was just around the corner. I was again enveloped with fear. I did not know where to start. I was at a loss. The plans I put onto my mind for events and activities will totally change as restrictions for social gatherings was put on place. I was again back on my knees, asking God to give me good health, sound mind, guidance as I make decisions for the organization and praying so hard to give me a reliable support group. God answered my prayers, the line up of officers for FY2020-2021 are mostly people that I know. They are committed, responsible and with a heart for service but more importantly, they believe in PICPA Abu Dhabi’s cause and share the same mission and vision. It was only then I felt at ease when my fear was taken over with excitement and enthusiasm. I know we are ready to face the challenges for this fiscal year.
The Fiscal Year 2020-2021 for PICPA Abu Dhabi will be challenging as it is for everyone. But amidst these challenges and changes, I have my hopes and expectations. I always believe that PICPA Abu Dhabi is a strong, active and involved organization committed to providing services to Filipino accountants and this remains to be unchanged even in unprecedented time. For as long as the leaders and its members stay united, it will continue to rise and meet those challenges head-on this coming year. Over the years, its leaders stayed committed on providing services to its members. And it is its members duty to be involved and to take part in this community. After all, it is not PICPA’s but every accountant’s obligation to make the accountancy profession future-proof. PICPA Abu Dhabi will only continue to be a vehicle to its member’s continuous learning and development which I believe will be a shield in this era of exponential change. I have always had faith that it will rise not only in this challenging time, but it will continue to exist in more years in the future.
My journey with PICPA Abu Dhabi will soon end, and now it is not a question of why I joined PICPA Abu Dhabi but why I stayed with PICPA Abu Dhabi? Because PICPA Abu Dhabi did not only serve as a venue for the fulfillment of my dream. It became my second home, a community that will always be there for me. Never did it make me feel I was laughed at my failures but rather was encouraged to stand up and was supported as I fight back. I was not judged on my mistakes but was given a chance to correct it. It is a place where my weaknesses were not highlighted but was given room for improvement and my strengths became a vehicle on helping others to move forward. It celebrated with my success, believed in my potential, and even broke the limit I set for myself. It has not stopped on teaching me the importance of continuous learning and development. It has instilled in my heart the values of commitment, responsibility, and selflessness through service. It has always been a place which gives me the inspiration to be a better version of myself. This is PICPA Abu Dhabi, a place which molded a part of who I am. And for me, PICPA Abu Dhabi is not just an organization…PICPA Abu Dhabi is home.